United States dependence on foreign oil could be a thing of the past as the nation continues to explore different ways of extracting oil from within North American borders.
According to Penn State’s Earth and Mineral Sciences website, Canada is the largest supplier of crude oil to United States. Canada has many large deposits of oil sands in which oil can be extracted right out of the surface, Turgay Ertekin, professor of petroleum engineering said.
While these large deposits of oil sands are close to United States borders, in central Alberta, Canada, there is much debate as to how to transport it safely into our borders, Ertekin said.
The Keystone XL Pipeline, proposed by TransCanada has been stalled from crossing U.S. borders because the pipeline poses environmental threats, according to the TransCanada website.
Ertekin said the reason that Canada is moving forward with liquid tar sands is because the amount of tar sand reserves will put Canada as the leader in oil reserves instead of Saudi Arabia.
Building the pipeline will create job opportunity as well as opportunity for the U.S. Steel Industry to build pipes and pumping stations, he said. It will also boost the economic situation in the United States, he added.
“I see it as a win-win situation for the country as employment opportunity as well as reaching oil reserves,” Ertekin said.
Ertekin stressed that with any construction project, the buildings will want to make sure that any ecosystem is not disturbed and any negative impact can be avoided.
This is why the pipeline must be rerouted according to Brian McManus, public information officer for the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. The pipeline must avoid an environmentally fragile area called the Sand Hills, located in north central Nebraska, McManus said.
“We are evaluating aspects relating to emergency responds,” McManus said. “A new [pipeline] path exists but potential impacts to surface and ground water is still in the evaluation process.”
McManus said that environmental protection is his chief concern and the NDEQ will be thorough in its evaluation of TransCanada’s proposed plan.
There is little impact to Penn State students, however, said Michael Arthur, a professor of Geosciences and a researcher at Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research. The initial construction will supply the most jobs but most of those will be building the pipeline, he said.
Arthur said the United States would benefit from the pipeline if it were economically feasible.
“The likelihood is that they are most likely to sell [the oil] to China but right now it is too valuable a resource to resist right now,” Arthur said. “It’s economical but [the cost of the pipeline] is based on oil prices right now.”